Source: Dick’s Picks Volume 28
Sound Quality/Mix: 21
Soundstage: Billy is centered and spread wide–especially the cymbals (the left channel in particular). He is at almost too high (at least the cymbals are–I don’t mind it in general; but in this case it only exacerbates the problem of Bobby and Keith being too low). Jerry is dead center and at a good level. Phil is also centered and at a perfect level. Bobby is far right and way too low. Keith is center right and a little low too. This is the problem with two track recordings–you can’t really adjust the levels of individual instruments. The sound itself is superb, which is no surprise; By ’73 they had the best live sound system in the world, and this is an official release. Overall I give it a 21.
1:00 Jerry is out of the gate quickly with this Star. The entire band sounds tight and in sync.
2:12 Jerry switches effects, and then drops back to his normal tone. This is a relatively fast paced but pretty ride so far.
3:05 Jerry starts a new little run. This is shaping up to be a somewhat light (tone not quality) Star.
3:25 We have shifted a bit… a note of two of darkness, but then that is quickly gone.
4:00 A very short lull…everyone is waiting and then Jerry starts off somewhere, slows, then picks up the pace.
4:28 Keith beautifully repeats Jerry’s runs.
5:21 Jerry begins stretching, pushing for an upper limit, disappears for a few seconds and creeps back in.
5:44 Phil starts pushing forward and with him comes the first hint at the weird. It lasts only for a few seconds before…
6:16 Everybody syncs up and starts moving in the same direction and
6:38 Then almost on a dime we enter a glorious space where everybody is playing their own thing, and it sounds great.
7:30 Jerry, Phil and cymbals dominate, but everyone is contributing.
8:45 Things are beginning to dissolve.
9:33 And then we are completely adrift…Billy is just lightly present on the cymbals and Phil is working in and around them with Keith twinkling lightly in the background.
10:14 Phil starts repeating a little theme and then…
10:34 Jerry pops into the picture with a series of quick notes sometimes lightly dancing around sometimes stabbing at our ears.
11:06 Jerry gives us a few moaning lines and Phil starts a little rhythm going…
11:23 And everyone joins in.
12:00 Jerry steps it up a level and everyone follows.
12:47 This section is a perfect example of why Jerry’s guitar change in ’73 is so important. In ’73 Jerry had shifted his style (at this point was shifting) from the raw energy of ’72 towards the more mature elegance of ’73 and ’74. Wolf was a perfect guitar for this new sound. Here we hear Jerry embracing the new sound of ’73 but playing it through the sharper toned stratocaster that gave ’72 its wonderful edge–Wolf wouldn’t arrive for 2 months. With this star we get to experience ’73 through a ’72 lens.
13:00 A wonderful jam. As a group they would never sound as good as they did in ’73 and ’74: the definition of a well oiled machine.
16:22 We get the first hint of the theme which brings everyone tumbling to a somewhat awkward end to the jam–the first technical blemish so far.
17:31 Verse. Jerry is a tad late coming in and again at “reason tatters”. The sound and level is fantastic, and he is in good voice. Nice accompaniment throughout; though, this is where I miss a high Keith and Bobby.
18:55 And we dive into a drum heavy space.
19:52 It is amazing how quickly they dissolve into absolute musical jelly without making it sound rushed.
21:11 We get some feedback from Jerry…certainly the first real darkness of the Star. The darkness continues with Phil contributing big notes that live on for some time.
22:22 Jerry goes into some freaky effect that proves effective.
23:19 And then it turns metallic and uncomfortable in a good way.
24:20 Lots of Phil and feedback and the pace picks up…we are leaving space…
And then Jerry goes into Eyes of the World. Not the best transition; in fact, it came out of the blue. This Star feels truncated to me. At 24 minutes there is still plenty of time to come out of that darkness and bring the listener back to earth. To hear a seamless transition from Dark Star to Eyes check out 11-11-73.
Overall what they played in this Star is great. Technically they are for the most part spot on and the chemistry is picture perfect. Again, though, I wanted more…the ending was far to abrupt.